Showing posts with label Excess. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Excess. Show all posts

November 28, 2015

What's Your Vice?

So no one is perfect.

And no matter how outwardly pious the person, everyone inwardly has some hidden (or not so) vice or excess that they must learn to tame.

Here's a top 23 list:

Substance Abuse
1) Cigarettes
2) Alcohol
3) Drugs

Greed
4) Food
5) Money (e.g. gambling, hoarding)
6) Materialism (e.g. homes, cars, boats, planes, jewels, clothes, etc.)

Obsessive Compulsive
7) Work
8) Sex
9) Popularity (e.g. talking, partying)
10) Religion 
11) Sport
12) Control

Anger
13) Violence
14) Abuse (e.g. verbal, emotional, physical)
15) Rape 

Callous
16) Indifference
17) Tardiness
18) Laziness

Egotistical
19) Selfish
20) Boastful

Crooked
21) Lying
22) Cheating
23) Stealing

Think about the people you know--love 'em or hate 'em--and is there anyone that doesn't have one of these to some extent or another?

And for those of you wondering, my vice is, of course, pizza! ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
Share/Save/Bookmark

August 18, 2015

Doggie Psychologist

I took this photo of a sign in Florida advertising a "Dog Psychology Center."

I think my dad would say that anyone taking their dog there should have their head examined!

Apparently, Cesar Millan is a fairly well-known "Dog Behaviorist" who works with especially aggressive dogs to rehabilitate them--soothing the savage beast!

There are enough people with mental problems that don't get the help they need that it seems somewhat excessive to have dogs going to the psychologist, but people are still homeless and in rags on the streets of our cities. 

At Country Inn Pet Resort your dog can be "mastering the walk," be socialized, get obedience training, and even learn to swim. 

Sounds nice to send your pet to a "resort," but do they really need a psychologist or do you just want to ignore your pet the same way you ignore your children?  ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
Share/Save/Bookmark

April 11, 2014

We're Not Deadbeats

Good book review in the Wall Street Journal on America's Fiscal Constitution by Bill White.

The main idea is that we have gone from a nation where fiscal discipline and paying off ones debts was a valued tradition to one now where excess rules and profligate borrowing runs through our veins. 

Both personal and national debt were viewed as a means of last resort and not something to be proud of, but rather as something done out of necessity to get through tough times. 

On a personal level, we only borrowed what we needed and we payed it back on time or even early.  Poverty was just one step away or even akin to servitude.  

Similarly, on a national level, public debt was viewed as a safety net to preserve the union (i.e. war), territorial integrity (e.g. Louisiana Purchase), or in a severe recession (i.e. to maintain the government's ability to spend in the short term). 

The best option was seen as "pay as you go," with the alternative, under limited circumstances, to "pay as soon as you can."

However, the value placed on self and national discipline and sufficiency was replaced with elements of entitlement, greed, and waste. 

The problem is once you have inequity in the system, then people feel the unfairness of it all, and give up caring about the system itself and just want to get what they see as their fair share. 

Some politicians cater to these feelings of relative deprivation and are no longer viewed positively for fiscal constraint and ensuring our economic security, but rather "politicians gain favor by spending money without having to raise unpopular taxes."

In essence, the government can give people more now, and they don't have to pay for it until future generations--hence the ability to buy citizen's political consent and even win elections by increasing the treasure chest even temporarily. 

No, this is not China raising the fortunes of the middle class to keep the Communist Party in power, but rather this is us in the U.S. of A racking up tens of trillions of dollars in debt to keep people happy now (forget the future generations, let them fend for themselves). 

Shake hands, kiss babies, and hand out dollar bills--give me, give me give me! 

What has happened to us fighting hard and driving into the future on our own feet--together in strength and not as a debtor nation getting handouts from anyone that will lend us. 

Soon, the Fed will be raising interest rates, and with a greater and greater national deficit to pay on, interest payments have the real potential to spiral out of control and leave our economy in shambles. 

Like a credit card with interest payments that eclipse the principle borrowed, soon you are in over your head and there is nowhere to go but Chapter 11. 

We're not an inherently debtor nation, and we sure don't want to be a deadbeat nation--isn't it better to have what we really have financially and be who we really are and value?   

Let's leave our children and grandchildren economic and national security and not a towering pile of shameless debt, from mom and dad with love.

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
Share/Save/Bookmark

April 2, 2012

Mind Readers and The Psychology of Excess

Animal_house
Seeing a number of senior officials in the last year "ousted," I find it sort of scary the risks and travails that executive leadership can entail.

There are so many good, hardworking people at GSA making progress for the Government in terms of property management, contract management, fleet management, and more, that it was a huge shock to many today, when GSA leadership including the Administrator, were ousted for what White House Chief of Staff called "excessive spending, questionable dealings with contractors, and disregard for taxpayer dollars." 

This at a time when the nation is struggling to reduce the national deficit now at $15.6 trillion and avoid another debt ratings cut from the three credit report agencies that would potentially drive interest up and cause even more damage to the nation's economy.

Of course, the GSA is not the only example, just last year, we had the unfortunate "muffin mini-scandal" as reported by Bloomberg BusinessWeek (29 September 2011), where the Government was alleged to have paid $16.80 apiece for muffins.

What causes this psychology of excess where taxpayers end up footing the bill for extravagant items and events? 

1) Hubris--Are there people who feel they are so high and mighty, they just have all the trimmings of office coming to them and theirs?

2) Neglect--Do some executives rise too far and fast, and maybe things get out of control?

3) Misguided--Is it possible that some may actually really think that hiring a mind reader on the taxpayer dime is a good idea?

4) Accident--At times, oversights, mistakes, and accidents happen, and while we may prefer they didn't, they are a learning opportunities.

5) All of the above--Perhaps it is some combination of all the prior four?

It reminds me of something my father taught me that "G-d does not let any flower grow into the sky."

This means that no matter how good we are or how far we go in our careers and in life, we remain mortal and infirm, and subject to human imperfections. 

That's why it's never a good idea to tout your own infallibility.  Just Last Thursday, the GSA Administrator, as reported by Government Executive Magazine, told a conference "Why us? Because we're the expert shoppers. We're the folks you want on your team when budgets are tight, you're making purchases, and there's no room for error..."

Obviously, I assume there was no intent to brag, but we all say things like this at one time or another, and it's good to reflect and stop ourselves from going too far. 

This is not about the GSA or any other agency or organization in particular, but rather a lesson in humility for all of us. 

This unfortunate incident should not obscure the good work, done every day, at all levels, by every Federal agency.  

(Source Photo: here)

Share/Save/Bookmark

October 29, 2011

Visiting The Sins of The Fathers

Everyone was waiting for the big news this week out of the EU on how they were going to bail out their troubled economies--way too many: Greece, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Ireland...and more.

Their debt is through the roof--Greece is at 164% of it GDP and Italy is saddled with 1.9 trillion euros with more than 200 billion of it coming due next year.

Unemployment is soaring...with Greek unemployment of 16.7%, topped by Spain's at 21.5%.

Economies are grinding to a halt: "Euro-zone economic data point to gloomy year-end...0.2% latest quarterly growth" (Wall Street Journal, 29-30 October 2011)

So news this week of a yet bigger (much bigger 4x or 5x) bailout fund of $1.4 trillion to backstop the losses, while sending the stock market soaring, left the pundits a little more than skeptical.

Why? Because where did the losses go...did they just disappear or is this a thoroughly massive shell game where the losses are spinning faster and faster under the shells of economic protectionism until they disappear altogether under the slight of hand of ministry of finance magicians?

I thought to myself this week--am I missing something? I wrote a friend--this guy is a genius--top of the class type, CPA, MBA and asked what he thought of the bailout? He too was baffled and said somebody just took a "50% haircut" referring to massive number of Greek bondholders who just took a huge loss--how is that a good thing?

And I thought what about the rest of the losses yet to be realized in the $1.4 trillion European Financial Stability Fund (EFSF)...by naming it "stability," does it actually make people feel more secure, better?

Then came the reports later this week--"Doubts rise about EU deal"--that the financial rescue plan is short on details, and as we all know "the devil is in the details." Moreover, it's just a plan--that's the easy part--words are cheap! The real test lies in whether the financial rescuers can actually execute this time or will we be back at the drawing board in 6 months time again?

Then I thought of the saying from the Torah (Bible)--Exodus 34:7 that G-d "visits the sins of the fathers on the children." Not in a malevolent way, but in an almost natural way--our actions have consequences.

While not limited to any individual, country, or continent, when we live beyond our means--when greed and gluttony surpass our ability to control our appetites for more, then a bubble builds and down the road, it eventually bursts--whether real estate, the dot com boom, stocks, commodities, or even tulips in the 17th century!

As we all know deep down, no shell game can go on forever--the hands tire, the players become more astute, and most importantly, the excesses of the past must be paid up--so that the next generation can eventually go on to a more stable and brighter future.

Both sides of the spectrum, the Tea Party and the Occupy Wall Street protesters know the same economic reckoning is coming--and even though not everyone can articulate the rising doubt and fear, we go toward resolution, hand-in-hand together.

(Source Picture: here and here)

Share/Save/Bookmark

October 27, 2008

Fear, Greed, and Enterprise Architecture

Just wanted to thank Jonas Lamis for posting my guest blog, "Fear, Greed, and Enterprise Architecture," on the Architecture & Governance Magazine site.

I think A&G is a great magazine -- down-to-earth and straightforward views on a range of important topics to CIOs, enterprise architects, and other IT professionals.

Kudos to Jonas and his team!
Share/Save/Bookmark